Review: Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Stereo Headphones

Sony have a reputation of providing high quality electronic products, which leaves many people are surprised when they come across the Sony DRM-RF970RK Wireless Stereo Headphone system priced at considerably less than many other big name brand wireless headphone sets. Sony claim that the MDR-RF970RK wireless headphones provide the best of both worlds; the excellent quality you associate with Sony at low prices you’d expect from lesser known brands. There is no disputing the price – these are definitely priced at the low end of the market. The question is, are they priced at the low end of the market for a reason, or is this just an absolute bargain not to be missed? Key Specs for Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Stereo Headphone RRP: $99.99 Year Of Release: 2004 Battery Powered? Yes – AAA Wireless? Yes Noise Canceling? Yes Weight: 2.8 lbs Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Stereo Headphone: The Pros Comfort: One of the first things you notice with the Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Headphone system is how well designed it is. A main selling point of the RF970RKs is that they are perfect for those with hearing impairments and elderly people. Naturally, anyone with hearing difficulties is likely to use a set of wireless headphones quite regularly, so it is vital that the headphones themselves are comfortable to wear for extended periods. Sony have nailed this one. The headphones sit snugly around the crown of your head, and unlike some other wireless headphone systems, they never feel loose or likely to move. This allows for greater mobility when using the RF970RKs – something that wireless headphone users often value highly. In addition to this, the earphones themselves are nicely cushioned, and there is no ear pain even after extended use. Induction Charging: The Sony MDR-RF970RK headphones feature a battery charger that doubles as the audio transmitter, and it is extremely simple to use. The headphones simply need to be placed onto the transmitter and charging begins. A simple timesaver, but one that allows for easy charging and simple storage. Induction charging means that the headphones do not need to be plugged in to the charger. When Sony have heavily marketed this product to the elderly and those with hearing difficulties, a simple charging system is extremely important. This is not unique to the RF970RKs, but is welcomed none the less. Power Button: It doesn’t have one, and yes it is a positive! The Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Headphone set uses an intuitive on/off system that only powers on the headphone set when the user puts them on. It does this by a slide that is automatically pushed into the on position when a user places the headphones on their head. The real benefit here is not in the lack of a power button, but in the efficiency that this gives users. By turning off the headphones as soon as they are taken off, the RF970RKs can preserve battery life without any input from the user. As you will see below, any way to preserve battery life is greatly appreciated. Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Stereo Headphone: The Cons Battery Life: As mentioned above, the Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Headphone system uses an intuitive automatic on/off system to help preserve battery life. An excellent concept, but one that is undermined by the otherwise poor battery performance. To completely charge the headphones, you need to leave the headphone set on the charger for up to 16 hours. This is just not good enough, especially when the fully charged headphones are claim to provide up to 14 hours usage! Even worse, the RF970RKs provide nothing close to 14 hours usage, and frequent to constant charging is necessary. There is little point in going to the trouble of incorporating an intuitive on/off battery saving aspect to your product when the battery itself cannot perform as required. Static: As with any wireless headphones, background noise and static can be a problematic issue. It certainly is a problem in the Sony MDR-RF970RK. The RF970RKs are unreliable when it comes to background noise. The auto tuning system that they use is either not good enough, or the signal to the headphones is too easily corrupted. While many users will receive high quality audio without any static, many others will be unable to resolve this static issue. There can be any number of reasons for static interfering with wireless headsets, but with the Sony MDR-RF970RK the problems are frequent and varied. Is the Sony MDR-RF970RK Wireless Stereo Headphone Worth Buying? There are two main types of wireless headphone buyers – those looking for assistance with hearing audio media (the elderly, those with hearing difficulties etc.) and those looking for freedom to go about their business while staying connected with music/news/TV programs. If you fall into the former category, the problem with the RF970RKs is the battery. Extended use will drain the battery, and recharging takes a lot of time. If you fall into the latter category, the problem is the audio quality. While you may get lucky and receive excellent quality audio, there is just as much chance that you will be plagued with background noise and static. With many other affordable options out there, the Sony MDR-RF970RK simply does not make a compelling enough case to be considered over other low price wireless headphones.


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